OK. So maybe you aren't friendly with your family. Maybe you don't even have a family, and you're living in a cardboard box outside the Ranch Mart. Maybe you would much rather have a different kind of holiday than your folks, or you just live too far from anyone you can call home, or maybe you just don't give a damn, but, there it is, you've got a day free at a time when you'd rather have it free on the day when the weatherman annouces it was "the best day of the year" afterwards.

So there it is, staring at you, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Easter, and the last thing in the world you want to be doing is imagining everyone else gathering around the dining room table chowing down on some insanely large dead beast. Or maybe it's Halloween, or New Year's Eve, or even Valentine's Day, and no night on the town (with suitable escort) has turned up. Or even one of the big weekends (Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc.) and you don't know of any barbeques you can gatecrash. Well, it's time for guerrilla solo living. It's time to PARTY!

First, don't discount any help you might have. Maybe you've got a friend who's also marooned...the two of you can often concoct some kind of joint fun. A relative of mine used to have the rockin'est Chrismas parties simply by living in DC and picking up all the people who just had to stay keeping America free and strong and running while everyone else was travelling home. Really, ask anyone. If not...

First, let's squarely face facts. What we're looking at is a block of otherwise undistinguished time, ranging from three hours (the amount of time it takes to eat a major meal with all due socializing before and a gesture towards clean up afterwards) to sixteen, in the case of three-day weekends, when restaurants, shops, and liquor stores are closed.

This leaves you with time that you can do...well, anything else. You can walk in the woods, or set your hair. Maybe you've got a craft project you want to finish. Maybe you crave a really big meal...so have it! with all your favorite foods at once, or the rented (or theatrical) movie you've been dying to see. Or maybe you've always wanted to rent a gory video game, some porn, or curl up with a romance novel...especially if you're "not that type". (No one else is around, and no one will check up on you.) I've written through holidays...just gotten the pen in motion and let fly. Just about the only things that don't work are drinking to get drunk (you get way drunk real fast, which leads to that grim "Now what?" feeling), watching regular TV (somehow it always seems to make holidays seem worse, not better, to be watching the regularly scheduled syndicated episodes of "Friends" in between station ID's reminding you to have a happy, safe, whatever) and deciding to feel sorry for yourself. Buck up, old thing, it's only a bad day!

Or you can decide to go with the holiday, instead of against it, doing all those corny things you sneered at when you were at home. Any number of women's magazines will have instructions on how to decorate trees and eggs, carve pumpkins, and the like -- it's never too late to learn your own style of doing all these things for yourself. For food-oriented holidays, you can go off your diet and cook or buy your own versions of trad foods -- unusual turkey stuffings (or none at all!), pumpkin or squash soup or bread instead of pie, lamb shanks instead of a whole leg, cranberry sherbet, etc. You don't have to be religious, or even of the right faith, to go to church...churches tend to put their best feet forward, as far as music and spectacle go, on major holidays. Go for the show, stand in the back, leave a dollar or two...no one will notice too much that you're clueless. Ditto patriotic events....treat them as strange rituals of a forgotten culture, and suddenly they seem real. Volunteering, though hardly a solo activity, can make you see the day with different eyes.

In short, spending holidays alone isn't the disaster. Not seizing the day is.

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